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Indiana FFA Debates Future of FFA Center

Foundation faces decision soon.

Sources report that the Indiana FFA Foundation Board may make a decision about the future of the Indiana FFA Leadership Training Center near Trafalgar soon, perhaps as early as next month. Apparently several options are on the table, including choices ranging from proceeding as things are to selling the entire facility, then using the proceeds to benefit FFA programs.

The Center's history dates back nearly four decades. Finding adequate funding to maintain and develop the Center has been an issue from the beginning. One of the biggest challenges facing the Foundation Board now, sources say, is finding funds to renovate the facility, especially the main lodge. It was built in the mid-70's, and was basically erected as a glorified pole building by a farm building company no longer in existence. The roof literally fell in on the facility a couple of years ago. Repairs were made, but the condition of the lodging rooms and bathrooms is apparently often the reason given for why businesses don't want to schedule a resort event at the facility.

The Indiana FFA Foundation Board is the governing board that oversees the facility and its operation. For the past two years, Jonathon Byrd's Cafeteria in Greenwood managed the facility, including providing food service. However, their contract expires July 31. That's believed to be one of the factors hastening a decision on the future of the facility.

Where would Indiana FFA Association officers live, and where would camps be held if the Center was no longer owned by the Indiana FFA Foundation? A site for camps was what led to purchase of the land and development of the Center in the first place. However, it was 'not only a different time, but a different world then,' as the country singer Bucky Covington sings in a current hit song. Summer camping is no longer a major mainstay for FFA members. Now most camps for FFA members are held on weekends during the school year, sometimes even in winter, when the outside portion of the facility is not utilized in a great way for the event.. All told, these events still occupy a small percentage of the time that the Center is used by all groups.

One suggestion offered by one source was that part of the proceeds of the sale of the Center could be used to purchase a smaller, more meeting-appropriate facility elsewhere. There's also the option of renting space at other facilities. The first FFA camps were held at state parks in the '60's. Desire to have a more private place for leadership training was the driving force behind purchase of the camp.

Sources indicate that the Foundation Board is carefully listening to all sides of the issue. This could be a watershed moment, one way or the other, for FFA in Indiana. Hopefully, after more careful study, the best course for support and training of future leaders will be obvious. Here's hoping to an economically sound, student-centered solution that could benefit current and future FFA members.

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